Yesterday, I was toying with the idea of contrast achieved by using different stitches in an embroidery project. Today, I want to show you an update on my current church embroidery piece, where you’ll see a subtle contrast achieved through changing the thickness of the thread and switching to just a slightly darker shade of color.
Initially, my plan was to use a different stitch for the second element in the monogram in this piece. After working the “M” in stem stitch using two strands of Soie d’Alger, the plan was to switch to a slightly darker shade of blue (which I did) and to fill the “A” part of the monogram with a chain stitch filling. I started to do that, but within two rows of stitching, I said, “NO.”
It was a resounding NO! It reverberated across the hills of Kansas. (Yes, we have hills.)
The chain stitch filling just didn’t work. Now, don’t get me wrong – chain stitch filling can work fine in all kinds of circumstances, but it just didn’t work here. Next to the smooth and flowing stem stitch (can you tell I like stem stitch?), the chain stitch looked bulky, bumpy, crude. I even re-worked the area using just one strand of Soie d’Alger, to see if the thickness of two strands was the problem. It wasn’t.
So… I reverted to stem stitch, and to achieve a subtle contrast between the two letters in the entwined monogram, I used one strand of Soie d’Alger with the slightly darker shade of blue. And I was much happier! Due to the use of one strand of silk, the darker blue does not sit as high on the fabric as the lighter blue, and it looks crisp and sharp, which is what I want.
These blues, by the way, are Soie d’Alger #4915 (the darker blue) and #4914 (the slightly lighter blue). They are perfect blues for this project. I love them! (But then, they are thread. And they are silk. What’s not to love?)
The moral of the story is that you can achieve a subtle contrast between elements in a design by changing the weight or thickness of the thread and switching to a slightly lighter or slightly darker shade, but keeping the same stitch. That’s what I’ve done, and I don’t regret it!
Keep in mind that, with church embroidery, it’s important that the elements stand out and can be discerned from afar. This monogram, when finished, would probably look a bit jumbled together from a distance, so some outlining is required after the filling is finished. The design will be outlined in gold, and then just outside the gold outline, I will probably work another tiny dark line to pick the whole thing up. But that’s quite a ways down the road!
And in fact, it’s farther down the road than you might think! Why? Because after getting to the point in the final photo above, I made a decision. You might not like the decision. I don’t like the decision. But it was one of those decisions that had to be made, and the sooner the better. In a bit, I’ll show you The Decision in pictures, and I’ll tell you why I took such a drastic step!
Here are links to other articles that show the progress of this project so far:
Setting up the Project
Beginning Stitching – stitch choice and laying tool
Using Gloves to Stitch with Silk
The Filled M
If you’d like access to all the tips and techniques discussed in the Medallion Project, including complete step-by-step coverage of the Tudor-Style Rose, conveniently collected in one document, interlinked, referenced, and indexed, why not add the Marian Medallion Project e-book to your library? It’s packed full of all kinds of embroidery tips for undertaking a project like this, all in a convenient electronic format for easy searching.
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